About the Blog

Educating fellow Jews about the sporting and defensive use of firearms. Especially Jews in North America, too many of whom are instilled with the belief that guns aren't for nice Jewish boys and girls.

If you know of notable Jewish shooters that should be documented on the blog, even if it is only at the local club level, I am happy to report and profile them. And don't be shy if that person to be documented is you! Please drop me a line at jewishmarksman at gmail dot com. Also follow me on twitter @JMarksmanship.

Friday, June 11, 2010

German Guns for Jewish Marksmen?

This morning I was nicely surprised to find that a German blogger wrote an article about this blog. I've been getting hits for the blog from all over the world. A lot of interest thus far comes from friendly Gentiles. The timing of the German blogger's post is remarkable, because just last night I had planned to blog a bit about German firearms!

Off the shelf, German and Austrian manufacturers make the best precision target firearms and accessories today. I use an old Feinwerkbau 65 air pistol, and a 300S air rifle. Both are probably older than me and I had to reseal and re-spring them, but they will still shoot one hole at 10m. My smallbore (.22LR) competition rifle is an Anschutz. Most Olympians are using rifles and pistols from Anschutz, Steyr, Walther, and Feinwerkbau. Even the Israelis! (However, my competition AR-15 is all American, as well as my S&W revolvers, my 1911 and 10/22 fun rifle...)

Perhaps the quintessential symbol of the relationship between Jews and German guns is the "IDF Mauser." Mauser is a German arms manufacturer of a line of bolt-action rifles and pistols from the 1870s to present. Interestingly, a Jew, Ludwig Loewe, once owned a company which in turn owned 50% of Mauser. Loewe and his family were destroyed by Antisemitism, and his estate seized by the Nazis. Mauser produced a rifle used by the Nazis called the K98. From Wikipedia:
Israeli Mauser

The use of the Karabiner 98k to establish the nation-state of Israel often raises a lot of interest among people and rifle collectors today. Many Jewish organizations in Palestine acquired them from post-World War II Europe to protect various Jewish settlements from Arab attack as well as to carry out guerrilla operations against British Army forces in Palestine.

The Haganah, which later evolved into the modern-day Israel Defense Forces, was one of the Jewish armed groups in Palestine that brought large numbers of Mauser Karabiner 98k rifles ... from Europe during the post-World War 2 period. Many, though not all, Israeli-used German surplus Mauser Karabiner 98k rifles have had all of the Nazi Waffenamt markings and emblems defaced with over stamped Israel Defence Force (IDF) and Hebrew markings as part of an effort to ideologically "purify" the rifles from their former use as an infantry weapon of Nazi Germany.

As the Arab-Israeli conflict approached, the Haganah and other Jewish forces in Palestine tried to get hold of as many weapons as they could in the face of an arms embargo by British colonial authorities. One of most important purchases was a secret January 14 1948, $12,280,000 worth contract with Czechoslovak Government including 4,500 P-18 rifles, as well as 50,400,000 rounds of ammunition. Later, the newly established Israel Defence Force ordered more numbers of Mauser Karabiner 98k rifles, produced this time by Fabrique Nationale. These have Israeli and Belgian markings on the rifle as well as the emblem of the IDF on the top of the rifle's receiver. The FN-made Karabiner 98k rifles with the IDF markings and emblem on the rifle were produced and sold "legally" to Israel after it established itself as an independent nation in 1948. The Israeli Karabiner 98k utilized the same bayonet design as in German service, with a barrel ring added. The Israeli bayonets were a mix of converted German production and domestically produced examples.

During the late 1950s, the IDF converted the calibre of their Mauser Karabiner 98k rifles from the original German 7.92 mm round to 7.62 mm NATO following the adoption of the FN FAL rifle as their primary rifle in 1958. The Israeli Mauser Karabiner 98k rifles that were converted have "7.62" engraved on the rifle receiver. Rifles with original German stocks have "7.62" burned into the heel of the rifle stock for identification and to separate the 7.62 NATO rifles from the original 7.92 mm versions of the weapon still in service or held in reserve. Some Karabiner 98k rifles were fitted with new, unnumbered beech stocks of recent manufacture, while others retained their original furniture. All of these converted rifles were proof-fired for service.

The Karabiner 98k rifle was used by the reserve branches of the IDF well into the 1960s and 1970s and saw action in the hands of various support and line-of-communications troops during the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. After the rifle was retired from reserve military service, the Israeli Mauser Karabiner 98k was given to a number of Third World nations as military aid by the Israelis during the 1970s and 1980's, and sold as ex-military surplus on the open market.
I have seen pictures of these IDF Mausers, and they are really emotionally stirring. As the article mentions, occasionally collectors find them with swastikas still stamped on the receiver with the IDF emblem stamped elsewhere. Even rumors of sightings of some models indicating they were originally made in the work camps. When you really think about it, at least to me, those rifles represent the triumph of the Jewish spirit.

Occasionally I see fine specimens come up on the auction sites, but they aren't cheap. And I don't intend to turn one into a "safe queen" (a gun that is meant to be collected, stored in a safe, and never shot). I would really like to find (cheaply) one in shooting condition that I could use to compete for fun NRA High Power matches. But I don't know a whole lot about them, so I'm still doing my research and figuring out how technically and financially feasible my idea is.

Update 11/24/12: I've been tagging my Israeli Mauser posts, where I've been tracking them on Gunbroker.com and also documenting my shooting adventures with mine (click here to see tagged posts).


  1. Maybe you should write some posts about your guns and take some photos of them. ;-))

    BTT: Thanks for your post. A few years ago Israeli Mausers were not that rare and expensive on the German surplus rifle market. But I'm not sure about the current situation.

    I would like to ask another question, since you are writing about Jewish marksmen. I'm researching the history of target shooting in the former Soviet Union and came across some Jewish shooters. I've already written about Lev Weinstein last year:
    Meister des Sports

    Now I'm looking into the biography of Moysey Itkis. I know that he spent the last years of his life in Israel. But I can not find any information about it (when and why did he emigrate and so on). Do you maybe know something about him? Thanks.

    Kind regards.


  2. Ernst-
    Funny you should ask, as I've been reading your blog for a while and I thought that you might be the one to help me with some of the Soviet Jewish shooters.

    In fact, you just reminded me of Lev Weinstein, who I think has a chapter or two in Gil Hebards Pistol Shooter's Treasury:
    And I remember at the time wondering if he was Jewish. I will have to look into it, and try to find out if there was an English version of his book.

    As to Moysey Itkis, that is a new one to me. As to emigration to Israel, I can only answer in general terms, is that many Russian Jews emigrated for economic reasons, and Israel made it financially rewarding to come. Secondly, even many non-observant Jews feel the desire, especially in their later years, to die or be buried in the land of Israel. There are a few other Soviets on my list to investigate as well:
    Allan Erdman Russian shooter, 1960 silver
    Lev Vainshtein Russian shooter, free rifle 1952 bronze

    I may have some contacts to shooting clubs in Israel, so I will ask around and see what I can find out.

    Most of my guns are pretty standard, but a few interesting ones I could post photos of and write about some time.

  3. Thanks for your response. It is difficult to find information about the former Soviet top shooters after they quit their active careers. Most I have found in internet forums, not in Wikipedia and so on.

    But now to the names on your list:

    Lev Vainshtein is Lew Weinstein. Just different spelling. I have used the German one which uses his original Yiddish (?) name. Vainshtein is the English transcription of the Russian transcription of Weinstein. ;-)

    Allan Erdman is still alive. He's the trainer of the wellknown riflelady Lyubov Galkina. I will write a blog post about them in a few weeks (at least before the world championship starts).

    Best regards,


  4. As an aside, my father was a member of the 101 squadron of the Israeli Air Force in 1948-9. Part of his duties was the transport and re-assembly of Messerschmitts bought from Czechoslovakia to be used by the fledgling IAF.

    Interesting blog, have wanted a Mauser for a while, will have to look for one with IDF markings now.

    Shabbat shalom!

  5. Shabbat Shalom! Very interesting to hear that it wasn't just rifles that "converted" to Judaism!